Fault Zone Uplift: My latest published Super Holly story

My short story, What Goes Up, is published in Fault Zone, a publication of the SF Peninsula branch of the California Writers Club. Super Holly Hansson saves the day several times in one day, but finds something she cannot save. I give many thanks to Laurel Anne Hill, who worked super-hard to put together this anthology, and who edited my writing into a story worthy of Fault Zone. Writers, editors are your friends.

Here is the start of “What Goes Up.”

The six-foot-tall, apricot-shaped computer on the auditorium stage glowed brighter. Was the thing about to go KA-BOOM, like old sci-fi mechanical brains computing love to the last digit? Super Holly Hansson gritted her teeth harder, tapped the console’s keyboard, and motioned toward Chris Jobz, the Apricot Computer CEO.

“Would you please hand me your tablet,” Holly said, “and get your butt behind the blast shields with your employees?” Too bad she couldn’t pitch that big yellow- orangish monster into the ocean. Too dangerous, according to Chris. “You’re not bomb- proof. I am.” So far… She swallowed hard.

Chris glanced in the direction of his staff, yet made no move to give Holly his tablet, as if he thought his lint-free black turtleneck was a supersuit. Arrogant but brave. He acted as if she could still channel superpowers into others, like she’d done to those comic book geeks months ago. She couldn’t do that anymore. Not even for a fellow geek.

“Miss Hansson, you need both hands and my help.” Chris shoved his Apricot tablet closer to Holly’s face. “You’re not an engineer.”

“I was a technical writer,” Holly said, “and this geek girl can read code.” But could she get through this in one piece? All those kids in the hospital would be so sad if she didn’t show up today. She typed faster, restraining her super-strength. Last year she’d

pulverized her favorite wireless keyboard. The shining apricot’s timer taunted her: 01:29, 01:28, 01:27…

“I know women can code. Forty percent of Apricot engineers are female,” Chris said. His eyes shot virtual daggers toward the smiling teen boy his employees restrained. “But if you don’t finish writing this Swoop code before that timer reaches zero, this Apricot will destroy the Internet.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Holly hissed as her fingertips tingled. “I suppose it was that kid’s bright idea to build a doomsday Apricot with a super-scalding keyboard.”

“Yes. Me. Crestley Smusher, to you.” The teen’s voice was nerdy, gleeful, and dripping with condescension. “It was a science project to put my highly intelligent, brightly smiling face upon every display on the planet. Upon the exact second of my eighteenth birthday, less than a minute from now. Except my superior code merged with inferior code from lesser engineers to form a nasty virus—”

“Shut up, Crestley,” Holly and Chris shouted. Holly tapped out the last line of code and turned. Behind thick, clear, plastic bomb shields, several angry Apricot geeks held Crestley’s arms. A six-foot-six and rather wide engineer got a stranglehold on the techie, whose smug smirk vanished. Speaking of vanishing, how much time had elapsed?

…00:03, 00:02, 00:01… The timer stopped. Just like on Stellar Trek, where the countdown always stopped at one. Whew! She’d done it.

Chris examined the Apricot’s display. “The Internet is saved.” He shook Holly’s hand. “Thank you.”

Such firm fingers he had, like a writer. “You’re welcome.”

“Auto destruct in fifteen seconds,” the monster Apricot voiced in a monotone. “Fourteen. Thirteen.”

“What the hell?” Chris sputtered. He and Holly whirled to face Crestley. Crestley smirked again. “All doomsday devices need a failsafe.”
“Nine. Eight.”
A failsafe? Time for Holly’s own brand of mind over matter. Crap. This was

gonna hurt. She reached out. A telekinetic hand—big, blue and transparent—shot from her own flesh-and-blood hand and engulfed the Apricot monster.

“Seven. Six.”

She punched her free fist upward. A telekinetic fist cannonballed out of it and bashed a hole in the ceiling.

“Five. Four.”
She flew through the roof and into the bright blue sky.
“Three.”
The Apricot campus shrank below her.
“Two.”
She held the doomsday Apricot in her telekinetic hand.
“One.”
Damn all arrogant nerds. Well, not all.
“Zero.”
KA-BOOOOOOM!

TO BE CONTINUED!

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Who’s on first? Who’s on third? The reader should be, that’s who!

As in First Person instead of Third Person. As in writing, “My head hurt,” instead of, “Holly’s head hurt.” Which one makes you feel Holly’s pain? Question: Which one puts you in the driver’s seat? Answer: It hurts more if it is your head that hurts.

I have been working on my point of view (POV) in my writing. Point of view as in you see a novel chapter, or a short story, only from that character’s point of view. And I mean WORKING on it for the past several months. Last Saturday, I was at the San Mateo County Fair’s literary stage (check them out on Author Day on June 14 Saturday). I had some lady authors—Beth Barany, Laurel Anne Hill, and Sandra Saidak—briefly review the first chapter of my novel. Sandra laughed, Beth and Laurel were more serious. They were good critics. One big comment was that I should work on POV. For example, Laurel said, “Where is the narrator?” Beth said that we need Holly’s emotional reaction to a character’s artwork. (Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, Alfred said, were about evoking an emotional response. Strong POV is emotional.)

rivet-deep-povThe book “Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point Of View” by Jill Elizabeth Nelson discusses getting into the POV character’s head, even when you are writing third person. Lots of good advice in that book. It set me on the POV path.

But there is another way to get close POV. Write in first person. It forces you to get into the POV head and STAY THERE! So I will rewrite my short stories to be first person. Yes, even the bad hair day story, which really should have been on Amazon by now! I think the novel will still be in third person (as in close third, deep POV) because it will have more than one POV character. maybe I’ll write the novel chapters in first person, and then find and replace “I” with the name of the POV character.

Anyhow. I have been very bugged with how parts of my stories drifted out of the POV head and into the omniscient narrator cloud, and clouds don’t make for great reading. (Galactus was a cloud in the second Fantastic Four flick, and clouds make boring villains!) I want the first person trick to fasten me into the POV driver seat with thick seat belts. I want my readers to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel, think, and get FURIOUS at what Holly does! (Or what Cal the Intellectual does, I have just started a new story with his POV.)

I am well into rewriting the bad hair day. I’ll see how it goes. (Yes, I saved the old copy!)

P.S. Tense? I use past tense. (Except for a few short sections in the novel, and that is for a very special reason.)